Preview: Manchester United vs. Fulham

Preview: Manchester United vs. Fulham

Old Trafford plays host to the only all-Premier League affair in this season’s FA Cup quarter-finals on Sunday afternoon, as Manchester United tackle Fulham for the right to play at Wembley.

The Red Devils came from a goal behind to beat West Ham United in round five, while Marco Silva’s men put two unanswered goals past Leeds United to reach the last eight.

Still mathematically pursuing silverware on four fronts this season, Manchester United repelled a barrage of attacks from a Joaquin-inspired Real Betis in the second leg of their Europa League last-16 affair on Thursday, with every passing chance lessening the Verdiblancos’ hopes of overturning a 4-1 first-leg deficit.

With the tie already seemingly dead and buried, Marcus Rashford made it 27 goals for the season on the 55-minute mark to seal Man United’s place in the quarter-finals, and knockout football remains the focus of Erik ten Hag as his side endeavour to book another Wembley date.

Having already carefully placed the EFL Cup crown in their cabinet, Man United have posted a trio of 3-1 home wins over Everton, Reading and West Ham to make the quarter-finals of the 2022-23 FA Cup, as a late flurry from Alejandro Garnacho, Fred and a Nayef Aguerd own goal sent the Hammers packing earlier this month.

Lifting the trophy aloft on 13 occasions – although not since the 2015-16 season – Man United have a first semi-final appearance since 2019-20 firmly within their sights, although they suffered quarter-final heartache to eventual winners Leicester City in the 2020-21 campaign.

Not since defeat to Arsenal in 2014-15 have Man United lost a home FA Cup tie in 90 or 120 minutes, but Middlesbrough famously sent the Red Devils packing on penalties last season, and the Cottagers have shown enough guile this season to threaten Man United’s dreams of a domestic cup double.

Even without the banned Joao Palhinha, Fulham were tipped to give London rivals Arsenal a proper run for their money at Craven Cottage last week, but Marco Silva watched on in abject horror as the Gunners tore his side apart with a ruthless first-half display.

Gabriel Magalhaes, Gabriel Martinelli and Martin Odegaard all converted from Leandro Trossard assists to put the game to bed before the break, and while Fulham improved in the second 45 minutes, an improbable comeback never looked to have been on the cards.

Back-to-back defeats to Arsenal and Brentford have dealt Fulham’s top-seven hopes quite a blow – now sitting ninth in the rankings – but qualifying for Europe via the FA Cup route remains a possibility for the Cottagers, who have defeated Hull City, Sunderland (after a replay) and Leeds to make it this far.

A quarter-final appearance represents Fulham’s best run in the FA Cup since the 2009-10 season, where they were eliminated by Tottenham Hotspur in the last eight, but it has been over 20 years since the Cottagers last went further, reaching the semi-finals in 2001-02 but succumbing to a John Terry winner for Chelsea.

Man United extended their unbeaten run against Fulham to 15 games thanks to a 2-1 win over the Cottagers in top-flight action back in November, and the Red Devils have won each of their last eight FA Cup games against the visitors, whose supporters cannot get too excited about Wembley if their side produces a display akin to their humbling loss to Arsenal.

Manchester United FA Cup form:

Manchester United form (all competitions):

Fulham FA Cup form:

Fulham form (all competitions):

We say: Manchester United 2-0 Fulham
For his wealth of goalscoring exploits in the Premier League and Championship, Fulham talisman Aleksandar Mitrovic is yet to open his account in the FA Cup, and morale will not be at its peak following two crushing London derby losses.

The return of Palhinha to the midfield should help to alleviate some of the Cottagers’ recent defensive frailties, but even with Casemiro helplessly watching on, Man United should have no trouble booking their spot in the final four at the Old Trafford fortress.

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